With all of the fresh watermelon hitting the market, I thought it would be good to again review a few tips about how to pick just the right one. A few of our readers happen to be some of the largest watermelon producers in the U.S. and have passed along a few inside tips through the years. I was certainly doing it all the wrong when I was younger. On a side note, one of my first real jobs, outside of throwing hay, was unloading semi-trucks full of watermelons. Let’s just say for a period of time in my life, I didn’t even want to see at another watermelon. Picking up watermelon and putting them down softly inside boxes and containers for 12-hours straight will give you a whole new perspective on things. It’s even more exciting when there are snakes from the field still alive in the haul. Those were the days… (Source: Preview photo credit O.Bellini, Shutterstock; fifteenspatulas.com; thekitchn.com)
White Field Spots – Many folks view the melons that have the big white areas as a problem. That’s not really the case, these are just field spots where the watermelon rested on the ground and are very natural. In fact some melons with just a shade of field spotting can be some of the best tasting. You don’t necessarily want the ones with the white spot, but more of a creamy-yellow or orangish-yellowish area can be best… so go for the “gold”.
Webbing – Many folks don’t like to pick a watermelon with “webbing”, the brown crusting spiderweb-like lines that are often on melons. Interestingly, the “webbing” on watermelon can help tell how many times bees touched the flower. Many sources believe the more pollination, the sweeter the watermelon.
Shape – It is believed that the taller and more elongated watermelons are a bit more watery, while the more rounded and stout are perhaps a bit sweeter.
Size Matters – In this case, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Most experts say an “averaged size” watermelon gives you the best odds of getting a great taste. Not too big or not too small.
The Tail – The tail of watermelon can often indicate its ripeness. A green tail can mean the melon was picked a bit too soon and might not taste as good. The melons with the dried tails can make for a better taste.
Color – Some folks believe color matters. Saying a perfect, ripe watermelon should be darker green in color and dull in appearance, rather than shiny. A shiny watermelon can have a tendency to be under-ripe.
The Thump – This is how my grandpa always checked his watermelons, but through the years I’ve heard a few conflicting thoughts on the sounds. Most agree that you want a more full sound when you thump the belly of the melon. If the melon sounds or feels somewhat hollow it’s definitely not one to take home to the family.